Mon, 30 Jan 2023

In 2020 and 2021, several nonprofit organizations saw large increases in new contributors and cash due to the pandemic's increased demand. However, retaining these donors has been challenging.

Since Q2 of last year, donor retention has decreased by 7%. This means that donor cultivation and stewardship are more crucial than ever for your organization, particularly for planned giving and significant gifts, which rely on large donations from committed donors. A donor nurturing strategy can assist you in prioritizing your most generous donors and engaging supporters at all giving levels.

But what precisely are donor cultivation and stewardship?

Donor cultivation is the relationship-building activity that precedes a donation, whereas donor stewardship is the relationship-strengthening process after receiving a gift.

 

Effective cultivation and stewardship strategies will overlap and work together, encouraging new and recurrent donors to make larger gifts or legacy donors to increase their annual contributions.

 

Why are donor cultivation and stewardship so crucial?

Retaining contributors is far more cost-effective than obtaining new ones. In fact, according to the 2019 Fundraising Effectiveness Report, for every $100 raised in 2018, 93 dollars were wasted due to gift attrition.

 

So, if you want to raise the entire $100 (rather than $7), developing one-of-a-kind, genuine touch points to engage your prospects and donors will help you establish relationships with your organization and cause and encourage repeat donations.

With the assistance of one of our nonprofit partners at MinaWill, we've developed a three-tiered cultivation and stewardship plan for engaging your contributors this year.

 

Plan example for donor cultivation and stewardship

Most NGOs need more time and resources to devote individual attention to every planned and significant gift to donors and prospects, even though this is likely what you would like. Because of this, it can be advantageous to identify different tiers of donors within planned and major giving (e.g., dividing giving levels from the smallest to the largest gifts) so that you can ensure that your most important donors or prospects receive the most attention while others are not forgotten.

 

This strategy can help you consider the many touch points and time for donor engagement, regardless of whether your organization already has its strategies for engaging donors.

 

Tier 1: The largest gifts for donor cultivation

In general, your cultivation and stewardship plan for contributors who have given the largest donations or prospects with the greatest potential to make substantial gifts should be carefully individualized for each individual.

Learn specifics about these contributors, such as their hobbies and passions, so you can engage them with relevant materials and events and improve the effectiveness of your approach.

 

For each fiscal year, you should:

 

  • Two key contact points (such as phone calls, in-person or virtual meetings, emails, etc.)
  • One chat or meeting facilitated with a relevant staff member, such as the Executive Director.
  • One special tour or supplementary stewardship activity will be provided based on their interests.
  • One to two impact reports on specific projects of interest are emailed or mailed.
  • At least two personal thank-you notes or phone calls following a gift or over the holidays.
  • Two "I recognize you" messages (e.g., sending articles or updates on a topic they are interested in)
  • Personal invitations to any events, workshops, speaking engagements, or webinars hosted by the organization.
  • At least four quarterly mailings or emails for marketing

Donations of moderate size: Tier 2 for donor cultivation

These contributors continue to make substantial donations to your organization, and you should, whenever feasible, tailor your stewardship to what you know about them.

 

For each fiscal year, you should:

 

  • At least one substantial contact (telephone calls, virtual/in-person meetings, emails, etc.)
  • One special tour or supplementary stewardship activity will be provided based on their interests.
  • One impact report on specific programs of interest emailed or mailed.
  • Two personal thank-you notes or phone calls - following a gift, around the holidays, etc.
  • Two "I recognize you" messages (e.g., sending articles or updates on a topic they are interested in or sending a survey to learn more about them)
  • Personal invitations to any events, workshops, speaking engagements, or webinars hosted by the organization.
  • At least four quarterly mailings or emails for marketing

Smaller gifts: Tier 3 for donor cultivation

These contributors may make the smallest contributions among planned and significant donors, but it does not make them inconsequential to the overall health of your fundraising program. It would help if you continued to interact with them at multiple touchpoints throughout each fiscal year:

 

  • At least one substantial contact (telephone calls, virtual/in-person meetings, emails, etc.)
  • One thank-you note or phone call
  • One "I know you" correspondence (e.g., sending articles or updates on a topic they are interested in or sending a survey to learn more about them)
  • Personal invitations to company events, workshops, and webinars.
  • At least four quarterly mailings or emails for marketing

Want to learn additional strategies to engage your contributors, improve gift sizes, make wiser requests, and campaign more efficiently? Participate in one of our future complimentary seminars for nonprofit professionals.

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